Browse past “In the Grass” posts here.
Dr. Randall Hughes studies genetic diversity in salt marshes, and how it affects the marsh plants and animals’ collective resistance to disturbances. She is looking to determine whether genetic diversity between and within species (specifically smooth cordgrass) may improve the resiliency of individual species and the health of salt marshes in general. She conducts the bulk of her study in St. Joseph Bay, which makes for some nice scenery to go along with the scientific data.
Salt marshes provide us with many services. Commercially important species such as mullet and shrimp hide in the grasses as juveniles, cordgrass’ root systems prevent erosion, and the grass itself buffers wave action. For more information on the services provided by salt marshes, view the In the Grass, On the Reef Master Plan.
Randall’s study is funded by the National Science Foundation.